The Hellenic Republic, better known as Greece, is a nation in Southern Europe. It borders Turkey and Bulgaria to the northeast, Macedonia to the north, and Albania to the northeast. The Ionian Sea forms its western coast, and the Aegean Sea its eastern. Its capital and largest city is Athens. Greek is the primary language, and the Greek Orthodox Church is the largest church.
The recorded history of Greece begins in the Bronze Age. The warlike Mycenaeans inhabited the peninsula, and the trading civilization of the Minoans resided on the island of Crete. Around 1600 BC, the Minoans civilization mysteriously vanished, possibly due to a volcanic eruption.
Around 1000 BC, the Mycenaeans were expelled by the Dorians, and the Greek Dark Age began. It lasted until around 776 BC, when, according to tradition, the first Olympic Games took place. Greece began to divide into rival city-states, including Athens, Sparta in the Peloponnese, and Corinth.
The 6th century and 5th centuries BC were a golden age for Athens. The tyranny had been overthrown, and a democracy established. All citizens could vote on issues, although the requirements for citizens were hard to meet. This was also the period of the philosophers Plato and Socrates, as well as the politician Pericles.
In the 5th century BC, Persia launched several invasions of Greece in retaliation for Greek support of a revolt in Anatolia. In the first invasion, the Battle of Marathon halted the Persian advance. In the second, the Persians were slowed by the Battle of Thermopylae, and their navy was destroyed at the Battle of Salamis. Greek independence was assured.
After the Greco-Persian Wars, Athens became the leader of the Delian League, based off the island of Delos. It quickly began abusing its power by plundering the treasury for its own use. Athen's growing power brought it into conflict with Sparta, and in 431 BC the Peloponnesian War began.
It quickly ground to a stalemate; Sparta was besieging Athens but the Athenian navy kept it well-supplied, although the Athenian army could not break the siege. Athens decided to gamble on an expedition to Syracuse in Sicily. This turned out to be a disaster, and Athens surrendered in 404 BC.
In the late 4th century, Philip II, from the northern region of Macedon, invaded and conquered Greece. His son, Alexander the Great, taught by the great philosopher Aristotle, went on to conquer all of the Achaemenid Empire and initiated the Hellenic Era.
However, Alexander's empire quickly fell apart after his death, and Greece was relegated to a backwater compared to Rome. In 149 BC, Greece was conquered with little effort.
Greece became the centerpiece of the Byzantine Empire after the division of the Roman Empire, and the Greeks converted to Christianity. Greece remained a part of the Byzantine empire until it was overrun by the Ottomans in the 14th century.
Greece languished under Ottoman rule until the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s and 1830s. The Kingdom of Greece was established in 1833. The first Olympics Games since ancient times took place in Athens in 1896.
Greece was invaded by Fascist Italy in 1940 as a part of World War II. However, fierce Greek resistance and the support of the United Kingdom stalled the invasion until Nazi Germany joined. Greece was liberated by the British in 1944.
In the post-war era, Greece became a wealthy, developed economy on par with the rest of Europe. Greece joined the European Union and adopted the euro, replacing the Greek drachma. The 2007 economic recession hit Greece hard, and severe austerity measures implemented by the government have been met with popular resistance.